Clear Creek Gets New Whitewater Park

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Tired of having its downstream neighbors in Golden, Colo., have all the fun, Clear Creek is getting a new whitewater park upstream at the town of Lawson. Years in the making and designed by Boulder’s Recreation Engineering and Planning, the park should create a notehr great playspot for local boaters, with several waves and holes throughout its course, all reaping the full benefit of Clear Creek’s spring runoff.

The goal of the in-stream work, say course builders, was to anchor boulders in place so that they wouldn’t shift in seasonal high water and to do so while minimizing sediment releases to the stream. Boulder placement was designed to maximize waves and flumes in all water levels.

After the site was selected, which included the addition of a public park, a preliminary site plan was produced by Marilyn Hogan of Evergreen. From there, REP’s Gary Lacy went to work, as he has on countless other parks around the country, from the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C., to parks in Pueblo, Salida, Buena Vista, Pagosa Springs, Steamboat and more.

While Lacy’s team designed the in-stream structures, Evergreen’s Mountain Design Group completed the dry-land portion of the site plan. “This sounds simple now, but it was several years to get to this point,” says Smoky Anderson of the Open Space Committee. “Everything was in place by the fall of 2009. Construction was timed to coincide with the river’s lowest water flow of the year and to precede critical hatching seasons in the fishery.”

Since the river runs within a Federal Highway Administration right-of-way, an Enhancement Funds grant was secured, whereby FHWA and CDOT would administer the grant and provide 80 percent of its funding. Once this work was complete, Left Hand Excavating worked along the bank to create wide public paths, landscaping terraces, and stadium seating through boulder placement. Native vegetation was re-planted as much as possible, and paths paved for safety and to reduce sediment transport.

“It’s a great park,” says Lacy, who plans to frequent it as much as anyone. “Clear Creek has a lot of water and the perfect gradient.”

Adhering to environmental consciousness, the park, which offers 20 parking spots, includes with a changing station utilizing solar-powered lighting and a non-discharge vault toilet.

Note to boaters: As of March 1, a major obstruction to navigation still existed a few hundred yards downstream, called The Tubes. Alvarado Road’s creek crossing will soon be improved with a bridge, but boaters are advised not to venture beyond park boundary signs.

Getting there:
The park address is 3555 Alvarado Road, Lawson, Colorado
GPS: Lat: 39 45’47.24” N, Long: 105 38’11.636” W
MapQuest and Google Maps: “Mile Hi Rafting” (next door).

River flow information: a href=”http://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?06716500″ target=”_blank”>Click here

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